in my humble opinion

Murphy’s Law

Posted 6/16/21

If you haven’t heard of the old adage, it’s fairly simple, straightforward and to the point: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

I’m not sure that …

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in my humble opinion

Murphy’s Law


If you haven’t heard of the old adage, it’s fairly simple, straightforward and to the point: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

I’m not sure that Murphy’s Law serves as a thematic undercurrent in my personal life, but I’m also not exactly a “glass half full” kinda guy, so when events played out as they did last Sunday, I shouldn’t have been surprised. That, plus the fact that I’ve never claimed to have the gift of “second sight”—the supposed ability to perceive future or distant events—also known as clairvoyance.

Still, I should have known that something was amiss. When I called to make an appointment for a “reading” being offered at a psychic fair somewhere in Sullivan County last week, the connection between me and the people on the other end of the phone was less than crystal clear. When asked for the name of the psychic medium I was seeking to secure an appointment with, I responded by saying that I was outside and had to go into the house in order to retrieve the name I had written down on a slip of paper. “What?” the man on the phone said. “You’re on the porch?” he asked. “Just come in,” he continued. “Why are you calling us if you’re here?”

“No” I responded, “I’m not outside your building. I’m just plain outdoors. At my house,” I explained. “In another town altogether.”

“Sir, sir” he said, clearly confused and exasperated. “Hang on, I’ll give you to someone else who can help you.” He transferred my call to another individual, but she also had difficulty understanding where I was or what I wanted.

“Am I not being clear?” I asked, more than a little perturbed. “Your ad says ‘call for an appointment,’ and that’s what I’m doing, but it seems I’m not communicating very well. I hope that the dead relatives I’m hoping to reach on the other side are less befuddled.”

That didn’t go over very well, or possibly my comment just went over her head, but after too much back-and-forth, we established that I had an appointment for 5:30 p.m. “It’s the psychic’s last booking for the day, so don’t be late!” I was warned, along with, “If you want to pay with a credit card, it has to be now, over the phone—otherwise it’s cash-only at the door.”

 I agreed to those terms, indicating I’d be prepared with money in hand, but she felt it necessary to repeat that particular clause two more times, ostensibly to drive the point home. “Got it,” I cheerfully responded. “See you then.”

Days later, armed with money “burning a hole in my pocket,” as Mom would say, I arrived early, as instructed, and did some light shopping at a gift emporium directly across the street. In a shop widely known in the region for an amazing assortment of penny candy and unique gifts, I perused the aisles and selected a few things, with one eye on the time and another on the sweet confections taunting me, since sugar is not something I normally consume. “Oh, what can it hurt?” I thought, grabbing a gourmet candy bar that boasted chocolate, bacon and potato chips as the main ingredients.

As predicted, the alarm on my phone buzzed a half-hour in advance of my appointed time and I paid for my forbidden candy and sidled across the road to check in as instructed.

 “I don’t see your name here,” I was told by the nice lady at the door. “Did you call it in?” Sighing, I replied in the affirmative pointing to her list, replete with boxes, graphs and weird symbols, many of which were scratched out or written over, including the name “John” scribbled in Lilliputian-sized lettering. “I’m guessing that’s me,” I said. “My name is Jonathan, and it’s next to the psychic medium I wish to consult with.”

“OK,” she said. “Will that be cash or charge?”

 “Seriously?” I asked. “I was told in no uncertain terms that there was no way I could use a credit card at the door—more than once.” She stared at me blankly and asked again. “Cash,” I sullenly responded. “I’ll just pay in cash.”

“I hope you don’t mind, but we’re running a bit behind. Is it OK if you have to wait a few minutes?”

“Sure, no problem,” I said in response, having been told that there were chairs set up outside where the psychic fair was taking place. I could see my chosen medium doing her thing from a distance, and while I waited patiently, I observed others who were reading Tarot cards, swinging pendulums and rubbing stones embellished with runes to aid their efforts in connecting with loved ones, or seeing into the future, I suppose.

As predicted, 5:30 came and went. Thirty minutes later, I saw the person before me shake hands and leave the psychic’s table, leaving room for me, the guy who was patiently (IMHO) waiting his turn. Before I could make my way over, someone else took a seat, so I approached, apologizing for the intrusion. “Sorry,” I said, “but I think I’m next.”

“Oh?” was the response from the young lady taking a seat. “My appointment was for 5:15, and I’ve been waiting for 45 minutes.”

Shaking my head, I wondered how she could have a half-hour appointment scheduled for fifteen minutes before mine, but slinked away, heading back to the ticketing lady for another frustrating chat. The upshot was fraught with more apologies and being told in no uncertain terms that my chosen psychic was “already exhausted” and that there would be no reading for me that day.

“I apologize,” the nice lady said, “But the only thing I can do is refund your money. Did you pay with a credit card, or was it cash?”

Dejected, depressed, disappointed and a little bit pissed off, I headed home, yet another half-hour away. Altogether, I spent three hours of my life not getting a psychic reading and wondering aloud how none of the people involved could have predicted that outcome. I don’t blame the nice lady at the door, I don’t blame the exhausted psychic... I don’t blame anyone. “I guess it’s just one of those things nobody could see coming,” I said to the dog. “Not even a fair brimming over with psychics, it would appear. I guess I have to chalk it up to Murphy’s Law.”

Fun Fact: The first known use of the term “Murphy’s Law” dates back to 1951 and is attributed to being coined by American engineer Edward A. Murphy.


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